Barry Lyga, a writer who's not afraid to write in many different fiction categories and to explore darker themes in his books.
Hi Barry. Great to have you here.
According to your bio, you’re a comic book collector. What are your favorite or most prized comics? And can you tell us a bit about your life in the comic book industry?
My most prized possession comic book-wise is an original copy of Adventure Comics #247, from 1958! It’s the first appearance of my favorite team, the Legion of Super-Heroes. My local comic book store came across a copy about twenty years ago. I couldn’t afford it at the time, but the owner was a good friend of mine. He took the comic and hid it behind the counter. Every time I had a spare twenty bucks or so, I’d give it to him and he’d keep a running tally until I’d paid it off. I basically bought that sucker on layaway, which most comic book stores won’t let you do. He could have probably sold it to an established collector for a lot more, a lot faster. I love that damn comic.
You’re called a YA rebel-author. How did you come by that moniker? Do you think of yourself as a rebel?
Kirkus called me that when they reviewed the first book in the I HUNT KILLERS trilogy. I tend to think if you think of yourself as a rebel, you automatically disqualify yourself from being one. I was initially caught off-guard by that label, but I came to understand why they said it — I usually write radically different kinds of stories, as opposed to authors who find a niche they like (say, thrillers or romance) and generally stick to it. I’m all over the map — thrillers, sci-fi, comic books, slice of life, what-have-you. That prompted them to call me a rebel, which is totally their prerogative, but I never think of myself that way. I just write what interests me and then cross my fingers and hope that it will interest others as well!
You have a new short story coming out each month of 2017. Wow! Can you tell us a bit about what’s behind this year-long commitment?
Shortly after the election, there was a lot of angst and anxiety in the arts community. And people were saying, “What can I do to resist?” The usual answers were “Call your representatives” and “Organize at the local level,” which are eminently sensible and effective suggestions. They are also things that I’m happy to do. But I kept feeling as though there had to be something I could by dint of my specific skill set, such as it is. And I realized in December that the ACLU not only was going to be enormously important to preserving our democracy, but also that it had already drawn a line in the sand. I’m a member and I could always give them more money, but I thought, “What if I did something that went beyond me? What if I did something that could bring in dollars that the ACLU wouldn’t see otherwise?”
We often read discussions about how difficult it is for writers to know when a story is finished and ready to send out. Do you have that difficulty? What is it that tells when it’s really time to write “The End” and send the manuscript into the world?
Nah. I usually know the ending long before I get there. I’m EAGER to get there. I don’t write stories to sit with them — I write them to share. When I get to the end of the story and feel a sense of satisfaction, I know it’s done. It’s baked. Time to take it out of the oven and put it on a serving platter.
Do you have any inspirational quote or secret sauce for success that you’d like to share with our readers?
“Just do it ’til it’s done,” a friend once told me. I was stuck on a novel a million years ago, years before I got published. And I was wallowing in self-pity and remorse, whining about how hard this was, and so on. And this friend of mine said, “Stop whining. It’s a book, not a tunnel through a mountain. Sit your ass down and write. Don’t think about how. Don’t think about why. Just write. Just do it ’til it’s done.”
I printed out a sign that said, “Just do it ’til it’s done” and hung it over my desk for many years. We writers can be exceedingly precious and find reasons not to work, always looking for some mystical combination of elements to prod our inspiration, but at the end of the day, there’s no magic to it. You just sit down and write until there’s nothing more to write. Just do it ’til it’s done.
Thank you so much for being here on the Insecure Writers Support Group. You've given us a chance to know you better and shared some of your insights as a writer. We appreciate it so much.
You can see all of Barry Lyga’s books on his website. His latest book is I Hunt for Killers (Little Brown). It has an intriguing plot that explores the effect of murder on the family of a killer and his community.
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That is so awesome that Barry can write in so many genres. Not many writers can do that successfully. Loved his quote too. That's so true!
Hi Lee and Barry - what a great organisation ACLU appears to be ... I'm sure we have similar over here. I love the idea of writing your stories based around helping them for their cause.
My 'articles' (posts) don't fit any category either ... but I just need to publish and then they'll find their own way with everyone's support - which the blogger friends here are so willing to give with encouragement etc ..
Cheers - good luck to you both - Hilary
I'd rather write a book than tunnel through a mountain any day!
Thanks for sharing with us, Barry.
"We writers can be exceedingly precious and find reasons not to work, always looking for some mystical combination of elements to prod our inspiration"
I think this is my problem. Great interview and the book sounds interesting too.
It's interesting to read about what writers go through and how they think.
Have a fabulous day. ☺
The just sit down and write it advice is one I need to remind myself of all the time. A short story a month is very impressive.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit
I'm a fan and have been for a few years, so it's great have Barry here on #IWSG. I have his latest book and now need to find the time to engross myself in it.
Sure worked to get that comic indeed. Yeah, give me book writing over making a tunnel through a mountain any day of the week.
Variety is a good thing though. And there are worse things to be called a rebel for.
I really did enjoy reading the post right until Barry showed himself to be as narrow minded as a everyone else in the entertainment/literary industry. ACLU? Really? A question for dear old Barry: Did any of the President's executive order personally affect you? Additionally, do you think that all those people, of which a small percentage could be potential readers of your work, made a mistake in voting for Trump?
First time to get to know a rebel-author this way. I'm like wow, so they're like us somehow. Haha. Awesome interview!
So cool that Barry has a comic book from 1958! I love that this book will give $ to the ACLU. This organization is vital right now.
Great interview, Barry and Lee! I'm reading it a little late because I'm traveling and don't have easy access to the internet. Barry, you said two things that stuck me as very important for writers: "I just write what interest me" and “Just do it ’til it’s done." I think I'll hang that "do it" quote above my working surface wherever I land. I probably had your AC#247 comic back in 1958, because I loved comics. But all my wonderful comics from that time are gone, because my family moved a lot and paying to move comics was not in the budget. I think how you are supporting the ALCU is awesome. My writing isn't bringing in money (yet!), so thanks for the reminder to support the ACLU by making a donation. Have a great weekend!
amazingly skilled writer he is who can write equally interesting in each genre .
it was nice to read this brilliant interview
Thanks for sharing with us, Barry!
I always struggle with the ends of my stories so thanks for the reminder: "Just do it ’til it’s done."
It's not magic, so right. It's BICHOK.
I find it particularly inspiring how we are each so different yet so much alike. Great interview, Lee and Barry.
Get some tips on how to cite a quote before doing it in your writing.
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